From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
The National Environmental Standards and Regulations’ Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has sensitised stakeholders in environment and health sectors on guidelines to properly handle infectious waste within the context of Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Babatunde Adigun, the State Coordinator of NESREA Kogi Field Office, while addressing participants in Lokoja, said the sensitisation program was prompted by the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic and the associated environmental and health hazards.
Hazards that may result from the use of chemicals for fumigation and indiscriminate disposal of used Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Adigun defined infectious waste as waste suspected to contain pathogens, materials or equipment that have been in contact with tubing, catheters, IGS toxins, live or attenuated vaccines, soiled in plaster and other materials contaminated with blood, urine, sputum, faeces of infected patients.
According to him, NESREA was established to ensure a cleaner and healthier environment; inspire personal and collective responsibility in building on environmentally conscious society for achievement of sustainable development in Nigeria.
He noted that the agency was responsible for enforcing all environmental laws, guidelines, standards and regulations in Nigeria.
He added that NESREA also enforced compliance with provisions of international agreements, protocols, conventions and treaties on environment to which Nigeria was a signatory.
”As we are all aware based on effort to address the Covid-19 pandemic result in generation of infectious waste and use of chemicals to disinfect surfaces.
”In this regard, NESREA has developed guideline for infectious waste and chemical disinfectant handling, hence the need to sensitise all the relevant stakeholders,” Adigun said.
He noted that even though Kogi was yet to record or identify any case of COVID-19, there was need for prevention of the pandemic.
He, therefore, enjoined the stakeholders to collaborate with NESREA in mitigating the flagrant pollution of the environments, and enforcing the extant laws, regulations, policies and guidelines.
While declaring the event open, Kogi Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Victor Adewale Omofaiye, welcome the stakeholders on behalf of the governor and commended the agency for the initiative, saying it was very timely.
He noted that the rate of spread of the dreaded COVID-19 was becoming worrisome, saying even though Kogi was yet to record any case, all the surrounding States had been affected.
”We do not pray to record any Covid-19 case in Kogi, but all hands are on deck to ensure that we nip it in the board in case of eventuality.
”We must strictly adhere to all the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus into Kogi State,” he said.
He assured the agency of the support of his ministry and the state government in carrying out their mandate in the state.
Two separate paper presentations were delivered on ”Guidelines for Handling Infectious Waste within the Context of Covid-19”, and ”Guidelines for Handling Chemicals Used for Disinfectant Surfaces Against Covid-19”.
Stakeholders at the program included representatives from the State Ministries of Health and Environment, Medical and Media Practitioners, CSOs, among others.